Summary and Info
I'm a (prose) writer and have read about screenwriting (McKee's Story and Truby's The Anatomy of Story) to gain a different perspective on storytelling. But it wasn't until I read Robert Olen Butler's From Where You Dream (Chapter 4, "Cinema of the Mind"; a comparison of film vs fiction techniques), that I realized how helpful it might be to explore other aspects of filmmaking. And then, on cue, came Karen Pearlman's primer on film editing -- an element so crucial to storytelling that she says, "Editors write the last draft of the script."
To be clear, this is primarily a book for film students or editors early in their careers. Focusing on rhythm to shape a story, she first discards the off-putting adjectives that editing is "intuitive" and "magical." Instead, she opens the process to show a tangible set of tools and skills that can be learned, practiced and internalized -- until they do operate in the subconscious background of seeming intuition. It's textbook-ish -- academic in tone (yet very readable) and content (including exercises and case studies), with end notes, a bibliography, and an index. My only quibble is that some of the case-study photographs are printed so dark they're indecipherable.
Then consider this passage:
"Editors compose rhythms in the sense that someone might compose a flower arrangement: not by making the flowers, or in this case the shots, but by choosing the selections, order, and duration of shots."
It sounds exactly like second-draft prose writing, and confirms a second audience: creatives who would benefit from getting behind the scenes of a less-familiar medium to explore very familiar aspects of storytelling: pace; perspective; distance; tension and release; arcs of action and emotion; scenes of dialogue; multiple storylines; speeding/slowing/collapsing time.
And I suggest even a third audience: highly motivated film buffs -- those who devour the bonus-material commentaries on DVDs -- who will find the material in this book revelatory. Knowing more about film editing and the collaboration inherent in film has already made me a more knowledgeable and appreciative film-goer.